Modern business websites can easily cost thousands of pounds to design, implement and operate. In the early days of the web, many sites were seen as a ‘must have’ but were often treated as a glossy add-on to the business rather than a potential serious driver of sales. As online commerce matured, web-savvy companies started to use analytics – the measuring of website performance – to identify what was working well, and more importantly, what wasn’t working and could be improved.
Analytics can indeed be very effective, and starting from the early basics of measuring page views, visitor numbers and sources, it has evolved into a much more sophisticated tool which can now analyse visitor paths, sales funnels, the nominal value of customisable ‘goals’ (i.e. certain actions a visitor can take), integration with paid advertising and much more.
Lead generation as a concept takes this to the next level. In analytics, visitors are in effect anonymous, and reports are usually aggregations of visitor data giving typical behaviours, whereas lead generation relies much more on zeroing in on individual visitors, categorising their lead potential, identifying them, and providing useful data with which to follow up if appropriate.
Some of the simpler packages are basically analytics with some extra visitor information tacked on, such as the company the visitor works for (not always successfully identified) and some basic location and contact details (examples include A1 Webstats and Canddi). Also, reports with this kind of software are often generated after the fact rather than in real time, especially when it comes to new prospects not previously identified.
More advanced examples of the software such as Ruler Analytics also provide turnover and employee data for the identified visiting companies, while others such as WOW Analytics also provide SIC. Lead Forensics includes all this, and will shortly be integrating financial data from Experian into the reports to give the best possible level of background information on visiting prospects.
As mentioned, the lower level packages provide regular reports by email, but with the next level up in sophistication ‘triggers’ can be defined which will send an email alert if a visitor matching certain criteria arrives on the site, enabling real-time follow up if someone is monitoring the mailbox. Some packages allow emails to be distributed to specified addresses for easy distribution between a sales team, while the top end packages like Lead Forensics and WOW Analytics also integrate directly with Salesforce and other popular CRMs.
So, while analytics is no doubt very useful for improving the general performance of a website, the extra features of lead generation – from basic to advanced – can transform your online presence into an active driver of leads and business.